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Donald Trump, the New York real- estate entrepreneur, said the Scottish government enticed him into investing in a golf resort by suggesting that an offshore wind farm he opposes was unlikely to go ahead.
Trump told lawmakers in Edinburgh today that he received “assurances” from First Minister Alex Salmond and his predecessor, Jack McConnell, over the turbine development. The government “lured” him into investing “tens of millions of pounds” on the site at Balmedie, north of Aberdeen, and “led him to believe” the farm would not proceed because of objections from the Ministry of Defence and shipping lane issues, Trump said.
Trump was giving evidence to a Scottish parliamentary committee today. He is trying to derail a proposed 230 million- pound ($370 million) experimental wind farm in sight of a golf course he plans to open in July.
Salmond aims to make Scotland the hub of European wind power as part of a strategy to generate the equivalent of all of the country’s electricity from renewable sources by 2020. He said in an interview last week that energy policy should be decided by elected politicians rather than Trump.
“Frankly I don’t think 11 turbines offshore is a difficult proposition for most people to accept,” Salmond said on April 18 at his official residence in Edinburgh. At no point did Salmond’s administration give any assurances to Trump or his organization and claims to the contrary are wrong, the first minister’s office said in an e-mailed statement today.
Trump told a press conference after the hearing that “I never like to use the word lie. But certainly they told me there would be no wind farms near my property.”
Trump said he had witnesses to conversations he held with McConnell and Salmond. Salmond and Trump discussed wind farms among other subjects at a dinner in a New York restaurant on October 2007, he said. The next month the Scottish government said it would decide whether Trump could proceed with his proposed resort after it was blocked by Aberdeenshire Council, the local municipality.
“I have absolutely no problem with Alex Salmond,” Trump said. “I like him but I think he is misguided.”
The European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre, a venture between Vattenfall AB, Technip SA (TEC) and Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group, applied in August for planning consent to build 11 next- generation offshore wind turbines in Aberdeen Bay. The turbines are 195 meters (640 feet) high to the tip of the blade and will be 2.4 kilometers (1.5 miles) out at sea, according to David Rodger, a spokesman for the venture.
The 65-year-old Trump identified his site as a potential 750 million-pound golf resort in 2005 and battled for almost three years to gain consent to build two courses, a 450-bed five-star hotel, 500 homes and 950 short-term rental apartments.
Trump said today he would proceed “immediately’” with the hotel and the housing if Vattenfall dropped the project. He would never have built the golf course had he thought there was any realistic prospect of the wind farm going ahead, Trump told the committee. When it was first mentioned, the wind farm was going to be 10 miles offshore, he said.
Scotland would “go broke” if the U.K. decided to stop paying the subsidies for wind power, Trump said.
The wind farm partners are “disappointed by the disproportionate campaign” against the wind farm and Scotland’s wind energy industry, they said in an e-mailed statement today.
Failure to go ahead would put at risk the ambitions of Scotland, the U.K. and Europe for low-cost energy from offshore wind, the statement said.
To contact the reporters on this story: Tim Farrand in Edinburgh at email@example.com; Peter Woodifield in Edinburgh at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rodney Jefferson at email@example.com